The Nigeria Association of Zoological Gardens has attributed last month’s escape of a lion at the Jos Wild Life Park to the general dilapidation of the facility.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the lion, which escaped when the door to its cage was opened for its morning food was later killed.
This is contained in a communiqué issued by Dr Olajumoke Morenikeji and Mr Andrew Ehanire, the President and Secretary of the association, after a working visit to the park.
The communiqué decried the poor infrastructure at the park, and regretted that most of its facilities had been in use for several decades “without rehabilitation or replacement”.
“There is manifest institutional neglect from cumulative arrears in scheduled maintenance and required upgrades; we find this situation very unacceptable,” the communiqué stated.
The communiqué stated that there was the need to work toward adequate safety and best practices because of the sensitivity and high visitor clientele including school children to the park.
It expressed regrets that Jos zoological garden with its natural endowments, landscape and clement weather, had lost its shine owing to neglect.
The communiqué called for a quick reversal of that trend to avert it from worsen.
It urged the association to serve as a national advisory and regulatory body to ensure that zoological gardens and parks were well funded and follow internationally acceptable practices.
It tasked the association to take the lead toward reshaping various misconceptions about the Jos incident and others by carrying out an independent investigation with the view to avoid a recurrence.
“NAZG must therefore seek to preserve public interest and confidence by ensuring that wildlife kept in zoos met acceptable standards in terms of welfare, personnel training and public safety,” it stated.
The association underscored the relevance of wild life to research, education, conservation, recreation, ecological system and mitigation of climate changes.
It urged Plateau Government and other stakeholders to strive toward world standards “to avoid embarrassing circumstances.”
The communiqué suggested that zoos should be incorporated into the National Tourism Master plan, and advocated a Tourism Intervention Fund. (NAN)